Cafardo On Lee, Yankees, Maeda, Lackey

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe discusses the rash of injuries to pitchers.  Some are suggesting that MLB lower the mound, which would reduce stress on the shoulder and elbow by reducing some of the downward force.  Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves has a different idea. “You have to stop shrinking the strike zone,” he said. “It has to be expanded. It’s incredible what you’re asking of pitchers nowadays. You expect them to throw the baseball into this tiny box. Do you know how much stress that puts on a pitcher’s arm? Just remembering when I pitched, the strike zone is so tiny compared to back then. It’s impossible to think that you make a pitcher hit that tiny box and not have it affect the health of a pitcher over time.”  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • Baseball executives think they’ll have their eyes on Cliff Lee if the Phillies fall out of the race.  The Yankees would have plenty of competition for Lee, perhaps even from the Red Sox, who have long coveted him, especially given his past relationship with John Farrell. The Red Sox also have more to give than the Yankees in terms of prospects. Lee, 35, will earn $25MM this season and next, and has a $27.5MM option for 2016, which vests with 200 innings in 2015 or 400 innings in 2014-15.
  • It’s expected that teams that missed out on Masahiro Tanaka will bid for Hiroshima Toyo Carp standout Kenta Maeda.  The Red Sox have scouted Maeda quite a bit and he’s garnering attention, even though he is not as accomplished as Tanaka.
  • Cafardo asked four GMs if they would rework John Lackey’s 2015 salary at the major league minimum if they were running the Red Sox. Three said no, that Lackey had agreed to play for the minimum in a sixth year if he lost a year to Tommy John surgery. The consensus was Lackey would be even more motivated to have a big year if he was playing for another big contract.
  • The Phillies didn’t have any suitors for Jonathan Papelbon over the offseason, but now that he’s pitched through some difficulty he may have a market.  The Phillies may not get a whole lot for him, however.

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